Suddenly crude oil -- black gold -- is about as cheap as bottled water. Oil prices, sliding for months, sank to a 12-year low Monday. At one point, prices dropped below $11 a barrel, reports CBS News Business Correspondent Anthony Mason.
Just nine years ago, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, oil was $40 a barrel. At the pump, gas prices, now averaging less than a dollar a gallon, are already (adjusted for inflation) the lowest they've been since the Depression.
Asia's economic crisis may only push them lower.
"If the Middle East is the prize in terms of oil supply, the prize in terms of oil markets was seen to be Asia," explains oil analyst Daniel Yergin.
Two years ago, Asia's economies were growing at 10 percent a year, says Yergin.
"And oil consumption was growing even faster as people went from bicycles to motor scooters to cars as industries grew," he says.
But demand has now dried up. With the market flooded, oil prices have been in a freefall -- down more than 40 percent in the past year alone.
OPEC, the once all powerful oil exporters group, which met last week, was powerless to stop it. Twenty-five years after the energy crisis that created gas lines, the industry is in an inverse oil shock.
"Instead of prices going through the roof, we have the threat of prices going through the floor," Yergin says.
How low can oil prices go? By the end of the year, prices could drop to $10 a barrel, some analysts predict. One forecasts $5 a barrel by the turn of the century.
Reported By Anthony Mason